Wendy Williams Diagnosed With Dementia and Aphasia

Harry Luke
Harry Luke
6 Min Read

Daytime TV personality Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, as well as the language disorder aphasia. The news was announced Thursday in a statement from Williams’ health care team, which you can read in full below.

On behalf of Wendy Williams Hunter, her care team is sharing this very personal update with her cherished fans, friends, and supporters to correct inaccurate and hurtful rumors about her health.

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As Wendy’s fans are aware, in the past she has been open with the public about her medical struggles with Graves’ Disease and Lymphedema as well as other significant challenges related to her health.

Over the past few years, questions have been raised at times about Wendy’s ability to process information and many have speculated about Wendy’s condition, particularly when she began to lose words, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions.

In 2023, after undergoing a battery of medical tests, Wendy was officially diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Aphasia, a condition affecting language and communication abilities, and frontotemporal dementia, a progressive disorder impacting behavior and cognitive functions, have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life.

Wendy would not have received confirmation of these diagnoses were it not for the diligence of her current care team, who she chose, and the extraordinary work of the specialists at Weill Cornell Medicine. Receiving a diagnosis has enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires.

The decision to share this news was difficult and made after careful consideration, not only to advocate for understanding and compassion for Wendy, but to raise awareness about aphasia and frontotemporal dementia and support the thousands of others facing similar circumstances. Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia face stigma and misunderstanding, particularly when they begin to exhibit behavioral changes but have not yet received a diagnosis.

There is hope that with early detection and far more empathy, the stigma associated with dementia will be eliminated, and those affected will receive the understanding, support, and care they deserve and need.

Wendy is still able to do many things for herself. Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humor and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed. She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way.

Williams’ formal diagnoses — which actor Bruce Willis was also diagnosed with in 2023 — come just days before the premiere of Lifetime’s Where Is Wendy Williams? documentary, airing Saturday, Feb. 24 and Sunday, Feb. 25 at 8/7c. Filmed over the course of two years and exec-produced by Williams herself, the project “provides a raw, honest and unfiltered reality of Wendy’s life after she was placed under financial guardianship, shedding light on the vulnerabilities that has turned Wendy into the Hot Topic herself,” per its official description. “Suffering mental and physical issues, Wendy’s delicate state of mind, erratic behavior and declining health were all captured by the cameras.”

Williams’ struggles first came to light in 2017, when a fainting spell in the middle of a live broadcast caused many to begin questioning her health. She went public with a Graves’ disease diagnosis in 2018, one year before announcing that she was also living in a sober house. She hosted her final episode of the now-defunct Wendy Williams Show in 2021, and financial troubles soon followed; in a previously released trailer for Lifetime’s documentary, Williams warned, “I have no money. And I’m going to tell you something — if it happens to me, it could happen to you.”

Ahead of the documentary’s release, Williams’ family spoke to People about her recent legal and health battles, noting that she has been in a facility to treat “cognitive issues” since April 2023, but Williams’ guardianship has not allowed for her family members to call or visit her.

“The people who love her cannot see her,” said Williams’ sister Wanda. “I think the big is: How the hell did we get here?… How did she go from this aunt or sister that we love and is healthy one minute to this person who’s in and out of the hospital? How is that system better than the system the family could put in place? This system is broken.”

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Harry Luke is a Professor in University of Galway. Harry's journey has been marked by a relentless pursuit of knowledge, creativity, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world around him.